On 17 January 1961 Patrice Lumumba, the first democratically elected leader of the Congolese Republic and hero of the independence movement was assassinated. Below are four poem published in his memory in 1968 by the Afro-Asian Writers Association in their journal: Afro-Asian Writings, which would become the journal Lotus.
Blood of Lumumba
I sat down in mourning,
I ate my daily bread and returned home
Lumumba’s spirit is a thread of blood on the mirror.
Do not ask who killed Christ. Do not ask
I killed him this morning
When he came to me, early in the day, wingless bird,
Hands in shackles, abreast of the news,
The mindless street is still at it was,
Walking along its daily round, tracing down shadows
On the dust, tracing and effacing, reading the news,
With a half attentive eye and folding up the papers,
Grinding wheat with the arms of the dead,
Binding men and women by invisible bonds.
Suddenly it was sunset,
Shadows disappeared, it was once more night,
But the mindless street was, as always, going along
Its round, grinding wheat.
I was walking along, when the moon wept,
The wind moaned,
The trees let down their branches,
Curtains on the birds’ nests.
The bottom of earth choked with mourning cries.
Bells were mute on breasts of stone,
Breasts were a cage without song,
Men and women were bound fast by a length of rope,
Lumumba’s face was far away, on the edge of sight,
Long days of tears now would begin their round.
He was aware of his destiny, to the very end of destiny.
He walked towards it; he, the lover, how would he
Walk to death?
The loving father, leaving home and forgetting child,
A Congolese, his home is the wind of the forest,
Birds are his friends,
How would he be content with a bed
in the bottom of the earth?
He is conscience…!
A man, in our miserly age, was meted out the destiny
Of a martyr …!
What remains, after Lumumba, to a blind poet,
Walking around empty grounds?
Yesterday he lost the key to heaven,
Love fled away, and friends,
Lumumba was his last prophet,
The prophet who prayed for pride.
When morning came, he fed me on his naked heart,
He gave me his blood for a drink,
He pleaded to me, in the name of God,
Not to surrender him,
But I abandoned him, I went on
Watching treacherous spears wooing him
Until his flag was folded up.
Say: Why did you not see his blood on my hands,
Spreading as fire?
Say: Why nobody called me up on the road:
“Stop, you murderer of Christ!”
Say, why his eyes did not feast, the day of death,
On a vision of a friend?
You, who braided palm branches on his head,
Who wept under the impact of his deep voice,
Look… your palms…! I see blood
On the palm of each and every hand…!
And now, while night approaches its end,
There is no end.
I feel unable to end my dirge.
Words, the same old weary words we said often in hypocrisy,
Words worn out theadbare by so much intercourse.
Silence is rather more worthwhile,
When we are shake to the very depth;
And the spirit of Lumumba is a thread of blood
On the mirror.
Who held the chisel
And carved out the solid black figure
A boiling lava of anger
Coursing through her veins?
Violence tore up her vermillion blouse
It dyed her skirt into a blood-black colour,
She walked through the streets.
A drop of milk trickled down her black black breasts
A drop of water fell from her red red eyes
And searching the dead body of a black fire.
The blood is purple
Can the white sheet hide this red spot in its folds?
The black forests shake
And the copper-heated sky rumbles
The stone gates of the caves have opened
A question rises from the dark continent
Like the earth’s red tongue licking the breasts of the sky.
When the tide of oppression rises high
It exhaust itself, it must die!
But when the martyr’s blood is shed
It freezes into a drop of immortality shining ruby-red!
Martyr’s blood –
It leaves its stain
On the desert sand,
On the book of justice,
On the martyr’s grave,
And also on the tyrant’s hand.
Blood is eloquent, it will not remain mute
It cannot be hidden, it cannot be silenced,
It will proclaim itself.
Let the evil ones operate from their hide-outs
The trail of blood will lead to the murderer’s dens.
Let the conspirators veil themselves in darkness
Every drop of a martyr’s blood
Will light an immortal flame.
Proclaim it to the doomed prophets of oppression.
Warn them all
Proclaim to them all —
The blood you sought to hide in desert sand,
The blood you tried to dam with a martyr’s grave
Has flooded the whole wide world
Here a flame of revolt
There a stone flung in protest.
And a banner of freedom everywhere.
Whose little children look around blankly,
Not knowing anything about what has happened,
In their kin’s arms.
Hundreds of blackmen sit on the roads with their heads hung,
Lumumba’s elder brother talks and talks about his brother,
And cry and beg to men to report to the world
about his brother’s unnatural death.
But Lumumba’s wife, with her breasts exposed
and her legs clad with white cloth,
Sits on the floor weeping, saying nothing.
Whose wife’s voiceless voice penetrates us
in our hearts, far in the East,
With her agony caused by the loss of her beloved,
With her pain caused by the robbing of her very support.
Whose wife’s silent voice strikes us, again,
With her anger in it to the murderers who
murdered her beloved and support.
Your cries resound just beside us.
Lumumba! A blackmail!
The fighter in the depths of ignorance,
poverty, pestilence, — and exploitation!
Sacred Martyr to the Liberation of Congo!
Black and heavy Lumumba I
Killed Prime Minister, Lumumba!
Whose haggard body is covering over Africa!
Whose wife is wailing alone on the floor!
Whose wife’s tears flood the world!
Whose wife’s voice springs beside us!
Her tears, the imperialists can never prevent
Whose cries, can anyone never, never prevent
those all over the world
Who want to, to hear!